Writing in Public: Story 4 (Novella), Chapter 11
Housekeeping notes: As the story evolves, I added the aliens to Chapter 7 (in red).
Graul’s first stop of the morning was the gym for a warm-up, lower body weight lifting, and then an interval run on the walkabout deck. By the time he ended the run, his t-shirt and hair were soaked with sweat. His muscles were pleasantly tired. Since his stateroom was next door to the bridge, he stopped there along to way to check in with the watch officer. The first bells of the day went off as if they were announcing his arrival.
The antsy feeling of everyone waiting to get off hovered in the air.
“Morning, sir,” the watch officer said. Graul was still getting used to seeing him—Lieutenant Parker was a new officer, but he wasn’t young. He’d been an enlisted and decided to become an officer. So he was thirty-five years old and a lieutenant. Unusually deep voice that always startled Graul a little.
“Any news?” Graul asked.
“Yes, sir. I had to use your program to boost the power in the shields.”
Graul had left orders last night to use a program he’d had developed if the storm got worse. Most skippers would divert power from sources they viewed as non-essential like the movie theater and the gyms. Graul thought those were essential, especially with the storm. The crew needed to be able to decompress. So the program pulled a very small percentage of power from many of the ship’s systems to cycle into the shields.
“Also, a text drop came in for you.” Parker dragged the message image across the plot table so Graul could see.
Graul rested his elbows on the edge of the table to read it. Text was a good route to go. It didn’t have as much bandwidth and had a better chance of getting through the storm.
The first message was short and to the point: Deep scan requested. Is there a space wreck in area?
Had to mean that Hope was looking for the source of the ghost.
“I already checked, sir,” Parker said. “We can’t run the deep scan. It’d draw more power from the systems than we can handle.”
Graul pressed his lips together, working out what else they could try to help the landing party. They could research the planet in the GALCOM archives loaded into the computer. He also knew those weren’t accurate and might take a lot of time.
“Let’s drop a drone,” he said.
Parker opened his mouth, then cocked his head. “I’m not tracking, sir. The drone won’t be able to transmit data to us.”
Graul waited, letting Parker figure it out.
Parker’s face lit up. “But the drone can record and come back to the ship with the data. You want just a camera drone or one of the science ones?”
“Science drone. Let’s run it through the full protocol. Take longer, but we’ll have complete information when it returns.”
While Parker gave the order to launch the drone, Graul turned back to the text message from the landing party. There was a second one:
Waves from below. M.
Great. Mel was on the planet, and he couldn’t even talk to her!